While the mass escape of animals from Tbilisi zoo in Georgia after devastating floods was widely reported last week, a small escapee has only recently been apprehended.
An African penguin took advantage of the chaos and headed straight for the river.
Authorities with guns hunted down wild animals in the streets of the flooded Georgian capital after the breakout. The hunt became more urgent when an escaped tiger attacked and killed a Tbilisi resident.
The penguin, meanwhile, got clean away. The flightless bird made it as far as the Azeri border – a trip of about 60 kilometres downriver.
The escapee was finally picked up in a dragnet by the authorities.
Reports by Russia-based website RT.com say the penguin apparently headed south from Tbilisi, over the Kura River (see map below of escape route). Guards sighted the bird near the historic Red Bridge on the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
“Fifteen minutes ago they called us and told that a penguin is swimming near the Red Bridge,” zoo management announced jubilantly.
“He is alive. A group went to bring him back to Tbilisi.”
Hundreds of other animals died during the disastrous flooding, while others, including a hippo, crocodile and tiger, escaped and roamed Tibilisi’s streets until rounded up or shot. The shootings have drawn wide criticism.
Georgia plans to create a new zoo in a better location, high above the water.
Written by Peter Needham